Ayiwang Uyghur Houses in Xinjiang
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China is a vast territory inhabited by several ethnic groups. Xinjiang has a continental climate, “the farthest region to the ocean”, the temperature changes dramatically between day and night, known as “fur coat in the morning, yarn at noon; have watermelon close to the stove at night.” In addition, 7 of 13 resident ethnic groups in Xinjiang are Muslims. So the architecture here is deeply influenced by Islamic culture and has its unique regional and ethnic characteristics.
Ayiwang: the summer room
Ayiwang house is a common form of Uyghur residential building. It has about 300~400 years history. “Ayiwang” refers to the front hall with a skylight (also called summer room). It serves multi purposes like a living room; the back rooms are bedrooms, also known as “winter rooms”, which usually have no windows. The design of the house can be very flexible. All the rooms are connected together, with the courtyard surrounding the houses.
Thanks to rosemanios@Flickr for images
People often set up a number of indoor niches, and also use lots of plaster carvings on the wall. Its architectural decoration is very artistic and delicate, with a broad contrast method combining spot focusing. Decoration on the gallery painting, brick, wood and window lattice are mostly flowers or geometric shapes; the doors and windows are mostly arch shaped; white and green colors are mainly stressed; all these together demonstrate its unique Islamic style.
The courtyard is also important part of Ayiwang housing. Firstly, as in deep continent, Xinjiang has very limited water resources. So in almost every courtyard, there is either a culvert conducting water through the house or a well for the same purpose. Muslims take clean water source very seriously and protect it strictly from pollution.
Second, people grow fruit plants in the yard, such as grapes, apricots. The grape trellis not only can create nice shades in the hot summer, but also provide delicious grapes and raisins to the market, which can be an extra income for the family.
Overall, Ayiwang houses are comfortable buildings in the dry climate of Xinjiang and also have a beautiful taste of Islamic culture.